The distinguished Irish mathematician, research meteorologist, academic and Irish Times columnist, Dr. Peter Lynch has been honoured as this year’s recipient of the Maths Week Ireland Award for his contribution to Raising Public Awareness of Maths.
The award is presented once each year during Maths Week – Ireland and the world’s largest festival of Maths and numeracy (14th – 22nd October). The all-island event is run with partners including Science Foundation Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills, universities, institutes of technology, libraries, schools, training colleges and employers, north and south.
“Mathematics can be enormously interesting and inspiring, but its beauty and utility are often hidden” writes 2017’s Maths Week Ireland’s Award recipient, the distinguished applied mathematician, meteorologist and mathematics populariser Peter Lynch, in the preface of his 2016 book That’s Maths. Every schoolchild and adult in Ireland should own a copy.
Peter Lynch is an applied mathematician who has had a long career as a research meteorologist at Met Éireann and a second career as an academic at UCD. It’s in his third career, as a notable blogger, Irish Times columnist and popular maths book author, that he has brought both the beauty and application of mathematics to a wide general audience in Ireland and beyond.
Peter Lynch is from Dun Laoghaire in County Dublin. He earned degrees in mathematical science at University College Dublin before joining the Irish meteorological service (now Met Éireann). He worked there for over 30 years, in time becoming Head of the Research and Training Division and then Deputy Director. Along the way be completed his doctorate on Planetary-scale Hydrodynamic Instability in the Atmosphere under the supervision of Dr Ray Bates, awarded in 1982 by Trinity College Dublin.
In 2004, Peter became Met Éireann Professor of Meteorology at the School of Mathematical Sciences and Director of the Meteorology & Climate Centre at UCD, where he taught specialised courses and mentored numerous postgraduate students. He also started publishing books, including The Emergence of Numerical Weather Prediction: Richardson’s Dream (Cambridge University Press).
On formally retiring in 2011, Peter started writing a weekly mathematical blog called “That’s Maths”, which was listed as one of the Top 100 Math Blogs for Students and Mathematics Teachers. About half of the columns have also appeared in the Irish Times (published on the first and third Thursdays of the month).
100 such columns make up the recent Gill Books volume That’s Maths, which is nicely subtitled “The Mathematical Magic in Everyday Life.” In the Preface, he assures us that “The articles are accessible to anyone who has studied mathematics at secondary school,” and he is true to those words.
As a book review in the Bulletin of the Irish Mathematical Society notes, “The level of mathematics expected of his readers varies from the purposely equation-free musings of the Irish Times articles to the more sophisticated pieces published only in his blog. A hint of whose writings Peter’s can be compared to can be found in a recent interview at mathsireland.ie, where he cites E. T. Bell, Martin Gardner, Dave Richeson, Glen van Brummelen and Bill Dunham as writers he has admired or learnt from. Unlike, say Gardner—who was generally less interested in mere application—Peter seems to be equally intrigued by utility, surprise, elegance and beauty.”
The citation at the awards ceremony was read by Prof Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College, Atlanta, and the award was presented to Peter by Maths Week Ireland co-founder Sheila Donegan.
Peter Lynch’s widely-read and appreciated blogs just keep coming, one a week, year after year, engaging curious readers of all ages, in Ireland and abroad. He is also a talented and delightful lecturer and presenter, who belongs on our national airwaves!
At the award ceremony, Eoin Gill, co-founder of Maths Week Ireland commended Peter Lynch for “his breadth of interests, tireless energy, eye for a good story and the key qualities with which he imbues his writing: Beauty, Utility, Elegance and Surprise.”
“Peter is a worthy recipient of the Maths Week Ireland Award for ‘Raising Public Awareness of Maths’.”